Maria grows with First Fruits

By Sheryl Greenwood | Ecuador in South America

Sheryl sits and speaks with a First Fruits participant.

After hearing that Jesus, and not a wooden statue, has the power to help her family, Maria thoughtfully responded, “I have heard a few other people say that.” Her mind and heart have been opening more and more to contemplate the claims of Jesus shared during visits from leaders of the First Fruits Family Garden project.

Maria’s family and her sister Anita’s family were struggling with health and financial issues even before the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Maria’s husband has cancer and can no longer get out of bed due to severe pain and swelling in his legs. The other breadwinners of both families have also lost their jobs during these challenging economic times. Maria said she took the little money they had accumulated and gave it to the local deity, a statue called the Virgin of Cisne, in hope it would bring help.

Maria and her sister Anita are now participants of SIM’s First Fruits Family Garden project in Ecuador. Research and prayer for a family garden project began in early 2019, as SIM Ecuador’s Compassion Ministry team had been talking and praying about how to help economically needy families. Then, the pandemic hit Ecuador in February 2020, and team member Sheryl sensed the Lord say, “This is the time! People need a sense of hope. They need to be encouraged to use the resources I have already given them even if they don’t have a job or money.”

Suddenly, restrictions tightened in March to the point that many businesses had to close. Family incomes and savings dried up within a few weeks. SIM mission workers joined by local Ecuadorian Christians started visiting the participants’ houses and educating them about how to plant and care for vegetables.

Whether in pots or on small pieces of ground beside their houses, the vegetables from these gardens now give the family members needed nutrients in addition to a sense of productivity during a time when they feel they can do very little to provide for their families.

One woman said months later, “It was the worst to be just sitting around feeling helpless. In our garden, we didn’t grow lots of food, but it encouraged me to be doing something with my family and it gave me hope that we could get through this.”

Growing a garden takes time and patience, giving ample opportunity for regular house visits to discuss gardening, build friendships, and share relevant agricultural stories from the Bible alongside the good news of Jesus.

One team member says, “We praise God who was the one who guided us to be prepared to begin the project even when we never dreamed a world-wide pandemic was about to happen! God meets our needs and guides us even before we know we need it. And we are excited for how He will bring fruit in many hearts through this ministry.”

Can you support First Fruits Garden project? Visit our donation portal using project number 091902, and pray for the team with the prayer points below.

Pray for…

• Maria, Anita, and their families as well as others in the project, including Sabina, Janeth, Ximena, Mercy, and others.

• open hearts and minds to hear and receive Jesus as the only true provider, healer, and God worthy of adoration.

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